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Abstract

Functional Health Literacy (FHL) involves the knowledge, skills and belief in self-efficacy to use health care information in self-care. FHL is critical for rural older adults since they are at risk of poor health care outcomes. As part of the Senior Health University project, we measured the FHL of rural older adults before and after educational sessions that included hands-on skill building. Ninety-eight participants aged 60 and older were recruited from five rural congregate meal sites over two years. Survey methods allowed for paired sample t-tests of FHL variables. Findings included significant post-training increases in FHL, suggesting the potential benefit of FHL training for rural older adults. Andersen’s (1995) Behavioral Model of Health Services Use guided this study of the effects of health promotion on health services use, standardization of practical measurement tools, and examination of modalities in rural settings. Research is needed to test the relationship of increased FHL and use of health services by rural participants and to explore the role of online resources and service use in vulnerable older adult populations.

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